The Forde Report

What is the Forde Report?

The Forde Report was the culmination of an independent investigation commissioned by the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) in 2020 to investigate both the contents of an internal report leaked into the public domain, as well as circumstances in which this was prepared and put into the public domain.

On 19 July 2022, the Forde Inquiry Panel completed its final report and delivered it to the Labour Party.

The Forde Report can be found here.

The Labour Party’s response

Promptly after receipt of the Forde Report, the NEC determined that it should be published in full.

At the time of publication the NEC, the General Secretary, David Evans and the Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer issued apologies (below) for the circumstances that led to allegations of racism and harassment not being addressed. As a progressive left-wing Party it was recognised that we should perform far better. A thorough process of stakeholder engagement was undertaken, led by Anneliese Dodds MP as Party Chair to gather feedback from different Party stakeholders on how they felt the Party needed to address the findings of the Forde report.

Based on the report itself and this extensive stakeholder feedback, considerable steps have been taken to put right the issues highlighted in the report.

The Labour Party, alongside an NEC working group (details below) have worked hard to respond to all the recommendations in the Report. The spreadsheet below illustrates the action taken under each recommendation.

Summary of actions taken

The Forde Report contained 165 recommendations (see the Q&A section below for further information on these). Broadly these fall into four categories:

  • Party culture

The Forde Report made recommendations to reform Party culture. The Party has gone through significant change in the way we work since April 2020. This has focused on on-going training for staff at all levels with new modules being added regularly, the most recent being a mandatory training session on valuing and respecting others. A new Member’s Pledge and Leadership Code have been developed and disseminated throughout the Party. They clearly set out the standards of behaviour expected from all members and the additional expectations placed on those in positions of responsibility. Structural changes have also improved ways of working across headquarters such as clarification of roles and responsibilities, planning and streamlining of decision-making and keeping staff fully up to date.

  • Employee recruitment and management

The Forde Report set out core recommendations for the recruitment and management of staff. In this time, significant transformation has taken place  in our approach to people management – in particular with regard to recruitment, training, diversity and inclusion. Action plans are now in place including a D&I action plan, a leadership training programme which is well underway and further improvements have been made to the way we recruit and manage staff. We have made progress in making the workforce more representative of the UK population with a higher proportion of BAME staff (targets have been in line with the latest UK census). For example a large group of trainee organisers have recently been recruited many whom are BAME and overall, and we have increased the proportion of BAME colleagues as well as the number of women in leadership roles whilst, almost doubling our workforce.

A new employee code of conduct has been developed alongside a new social media code for staff.

  • Disciplinary systems and processes for party members

The Forde Report recommended detailed changes to the way we manage our disciplinary process. The Party has worked intensively – since the EHRC report and the Forde Report – to improve the way we deal with disciplinary matters. There have been substantial changes to professionalise our procedures especially for complaints involving protected characteristics. We have taken significant steps to introduce independence into decision making. This included establishing two independent complaint boards (apart from lay members, no other member has any affiliation to the Party) to verify disciplinary decisions taken by the NEC and to hear cases sent by the NEC either on paper or in-person.

  • Anti-discrimination measures

In addition to other anti-discrimination measures such as the independent complaints process, the NEC working group recommended that the Party offers Afrophobia and anti-Black racism training to be provided by a third party external to the Labour Party. This training is now in full development and will be rolled out in 2024 (summer) and will be mandatory for all staff, NEC, Shadow Cabinet, MPs and Peers.

Whilst this marks the end of the action planning phase of the Forde Report, it does not mark an end to improvements being made. Work on all these workstreams will remain with a continual focus on improvement.  The NEC will retain an oversight of progress going forward and will continue to ensure that high standards are maintained.

Action on detailed recommendations in the Forde Report 

All 165 recommendations and actions from the Report can be found in the links below:

  1. Complete Tranche 1 – these are recommendations that were in place by when the Forde Report was received and published
  2. Complete under EHRC process – recommendations that mirrored and were delivered under the EHRC process
  3. Complete by staff teams – these are in-house improvements
  4. Complete (NEC working group) – action led by the NEC working group
  5. Considered but not adopted

A small number of recommendations were considered but not adopted. Although full consideration was given to all recommendations, in 11 cases it was decided that they would not be adopted.  Detailed reasons for this are given in the spreadsheet but specifically, these include recommendations that Labour Party staff should act as civil servants and remain impartial were scrutinised but were not adopted as this was not considered a reasonable ‘ask’ in a political party context and similarly an HR measure to adopt ‘blind recruitment’ was not adopted as we believe we go further to avoid bias and discrimination by training our staff in unconscious bias and specifically training members of recruitment panels.

NEC Statement on the Forde Report

The Labour Party apologises for the culture and attitudes expressed by senior staff in the leaked report, as well as for the way in which those comments came to light.

The report is clear that the culture of factionalism led to a situation where allegations of racism and harassment weren’t being addressed.

Elected representatives, our members, and the public rightly expect better from a progressive left-wing party.

The Labour Party is committed to ensuring that such a situation will not arise again and that any racist and discriminatory attitudes will be tackled immediately, wherever they arise, in whatever section of the party.

An apology alone is not enough, and that is why, even prior to the publication of the Forde Report, steps have been taken to begin to change the culture of the Party.

This work is ongoing, and the Forde Report provides additional recommendations to further this work and to ensure that this is never allowed to happen again.

The NEC is currently seeking the views of Party stakeholders in deciding how to take forward the recommendations from the Forde Report.

Apology from the General Secretary, David Evans

On behalf of the Labour Party, I want to apologise to you for the culture and attitudes expressed by senior staff in the leaked report, as well as for the way in which those comments came to light.

I also want to offer a commitment to you and all other members that such a situation will not arise again and that we will tackle racist and discriminatory attitudes wherever they arise in whatever section of the Party.

There are 165 detailed recommendations in the Forde Report, many of which I’m pleased to say are underway or have already been implemented under the current leadership. Whilst the focus of the report was 2014-2019, there are some profound findings that I can assure you I take seriously.

Apology from the Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer MP

As Leader of the Labour Party, I want to reiterate that apology to those affected for the culture and attitudes expressed by senior staff in the leaked report. This was unacceptable and they deserve an apology.

I know an apology alone is not enough and that is why, working with the General Secretary, we have taken steps to change the culture of the Party. This work is underway.

The Forde Report provides concrete recommendations to help us achieve that, and I want to work with all those effected to drive this work through our party and ensure this never happens again.


What is the Forde Inquiry Panel?

The Forde Inquiry Panel is an independent panel appointed by the NEC on 23 April 2020 to investigate both the contents of the report leaked over the Easter weekend 2020, and also to consider the serious concerns about the structure, culture and practices of the Party’s organisation and relationships between senior staff and the elected leadership and with the membership.

At a meeting of the NEC held on 1 May 2020, the membership of the Forde Inquiry Panel was approved as follows: Martin Forde KC (acting as chair of the Panel), Lord Larry Whitty (the Rt. Hon. the Lord Whitty), Baroness Debbie Wilcox (Baroness Wilcox of Newport) and Baroness Ruth Lister (Baroness Lister of Burtersett CBE) and is chaired by Martin Forde QC.

What was the scope of the Inquiry’s work?

Focusing on the period 2014-2019 (which was the focus of the report that was leaked into the public domain), the Inquiry was established on 23 April 2020 with the following terms of reference:

  • To determine the truth or otherwise of the most significant allegations contained in the leaked report (as determined by the Forde Panel);
  • The background and circumstances against which the leaked report was commissioned, written and circulated, including how it subsequently was put into the public domain; and
  • The structure, culture and practices of the Labour Party organisation, including the relationship between senior Party staff and the elected leadership of the Party.

What evidence did the Forde Inquiry receive?

The Forde Report refers to them receiving more than 1,100 submissions. The Party has not seen this evidence, as this evidence was submitted directly to the Forde Inquiry itself.

What are the main findings of the Forde Report?

The finding of the report are extensive with regards to the period considered by the Forde Inquiry. A short summary is included here, with more detail available in the Forde Report itself:

  • The report highlights structural problems with the Party’s disciplinary processes with regards to antisemitism. These, it concludes, were exacerbated by factionalism in the Party during the period examined by the report.
  • The report identifies an antagonistic relationship between the then Leader’s Office and staff in the Party’s headquarters, with a lack of clarity as to the roles of each.
  • The report concludes that disunity in the Party hampered its electoral fortunes and the overall functioning of the Party.
  • However, the report does not substantiate claims that factionalism led to the Party’s general election defeat in 2017, although it criticises the existence of competing strategies.
  • The report concludes that the recruitment practices of the Party have been too informal and insufficiently transparent.
  • The report also finds that staff training, development and wellbeing have not been given sufficient priority.
  • The report highlights serious problems of discrimination in the operations of the Party, with evidence of unacceptable incidents of racism, sexism, antisemitism and islamophobia.
  • The report urges the Party to treat all forms of discrimination among staff, elected officials and the wider membership with the same seriousness as incidents of antisemitism.

How many recommendations does the Forde Report contain, and what are its main recommendations?

The Forde Report makes a total of 165 recommendations. These relate to the following areas of the Party’s activity:

  • The Party’s disciplinary processes;
  • Party culture;
  • Use of social media in the Party;
  • Recruitment and people management; and
  • Relationship between the Party’s HQ and the Leader’s Office.

What was the Labour Party’s initial response?

The Party did not wait for the publication of the Forde Report to begin the process of culture change. A significant number of changes had already been made to the Party’s operation and culture:

  • We had introduced a new independent complaints process to ensure that all complaints and disciplinary processes are dealt with fairly and impartially. You can find out more here.
  • We had created a Diversity and Inclusion Board, supported by an external expert and chaired by the General Secretary. The Board operates in partnership with workplace unions and staff networks and has a work plan in place to improve the experience of all staff, including those from diverse backgrounds.
  • We had introduced open recruitment for all roles and use new and more diverse networks to advertise roles in order to improve the diversity of our team.
  • We had improved the collection of diversity data among staff to be able to track the diversity of our team and to put in place measures for improvement.
  • In 2021, we agreed and implemented codes of conduct on Islamophobia and on Afrophobia and Anti-Black racism which set out the minimum code of conduct expected by the Party of all its members. Further information can be found here.

What was the NEC working group and who sat on it?

The NEC working group was set up by the NEC in November 2022 to consider recommendations relating to tackling discrimination, culture change and a membership and leadership code of conduct. The NEC working group assessed the actions and its recommendations were reported to, and accepted by the NEC.

The NEC working group had 15 members and was made up of 5 members from the NEC, 5 members from CLPs/PLP and 5 members from affiliates. The Chair of the NEC working group was Carol Sewell and the Vice Chair of this NEC working group was Johanna Baxter.